In his last eight starts Charlie Morton has been terrible. Well, terrible probably isn't exactly the right word. Morton pitched pretty well in two of those starts, but he failed to go six innings in any of them. His numbers:
8 GS 36.1IP 55 H 34 R 29 ER 18 BB 25 K 3 HR 4 HBP 2.009 WHIP 7.18 ERA
Opposing batters' numbers during that time:
.350/.423/.503 .926 OPS*
*As a point of reference only seven NL hitters have an OPS better than .926. Justin Upton is the closest at .929. Five of the seven happen to play in the NL Central,** Berkman and Holliday with St. Louis, Braun and Fielder with Milwaukee and Votto with Cincinnati. The other is Matt Kemp.
**All this talk about how the NL Central is weak is misguided. The division doesn't have a team as good as the Phillies and isn't as good top to bottom as the NL East, but it is tougher than the NL West.
Back to Morton. Here is the interesting thing, with all the appropriate sample size caveats. In six of those eight starts Morton pitched on four or five days rest. Here are his numbers from the other two:
10 days rest against Washington 7/1:
5.2 IP 3 H 1 R 2 BB 1 K 1 HR 88 pitches
11 days rest against Cincinnati 7/18
5.0 IP 3 H 0 R 2 BB 3 K 0 HR 87 pitches
Morton wasn't particularly effecient in either of those starts, but the results were solid. Take those two out of the line above and he has an ERA of 9.82 and a 2.455 WHIP in the other six. That's downright frightening.
I'm not sure exactly what conclusions we should draw from this. Maybe it's just coincidence. Maybe Morton needs to be spotted the rest of the way, which would be easy to do in September when rosters expand, but would be incredibly difficult in August. Maybe what we saw from April thru June was a breif, unsustainable mirage. I don't have an answer, I'll let you decide.
Either way, a couple more start like last night, where Morton was also the victim of some terrible defense, and the team has to start thinking about alternatives.
I think there is about a 15% chance Friday night's game was Lyle Overbay's last start with the Pirates. I don't expect him to be in the lineup tonight against lefty Cliff Lee and Neal Huntington is working to add somebody by the trade deadline Sunday at 4 PM.
Here are Overbay's numbers since he last homered on July 16:
12 G 45 PA 5 H 2 2B 0 3B 0 HR 0 RBI 5 BB 10 K .125/.222/.175 .397 OPS
It's time to move on. Pearce, Jones, Bowker, Hague, Doumit, Jaramillo, Dusty Brown, the Pirate Parrot...you get the point. The Lyle Overbay Era should be over when the team returns to PNC Park to play the Cubs on Monday.